Monday, June 24, 2013

Big loss, easy win, and the continuing GOAT debate

Well well well, we thought last year was a huge shocker when Rafael Nadal was beaten in the 2nd round by Lukas Rosol.  Who in their right mind would have ever predicted Nadal going out this year in the 1st round, to an opponent ranked 135, in his first ever 1st round loss?  Although obviously Rafa wasn't even close to his best, and most likely his knee was really bothering him, which became apparent by the end of the match, there was no doubt about it that Steve Darcis played a clutch match beginning to end.  I have never seen some of the shots he was doing with his slice, and at the end of the match he was hitting some very Nadal-like winners.  Earlier this year he was losing in challenger tournaments, but regardless of what happens in the rest of his career, he will now always be remembered as the guy who took out Nadal in the 1st round of Wimbledon.  Quite the accomplishment!

Roger Federer had a much better day than Rafa did.  He wasn't the slightest bit troubled in his first round match against Victor Hanescu.  I think his victory in the tournament on grass in Halle was very helpful for his confidence going into Wimbledon.  He played his beautiful grass court tennis that we have gotten so familiar with.  The errors that can sometimes creep into his game weren't an issue in the slightest today and he showed his full range of all court tennis.  He served great, which always helps so much in setting up his game.  Obviously this was an opponent who couldn't do much to trouble him, but I think this bodes well for his upcoming matches.  And with Rafa now out of the tournament (which I still find hard to believe!), that really changes things as to his chances to claim his 8th Wimbledon crown.

And now I just have to rant for a moment.  There has been much debate for quite some time as to the GOAT (greatest of all time) question - really more than there should be when those being talked about are still playing.  For a great majority Roger Federer is undeniably the GOAT for a good many reasons.  Before Nadal's surprising exit, however, former tennis great and current commentator John McEnroe was trying to make the case that Nadal is getting close to taking over that spot.  For one who used to speak so extremely highly of Federer in that position, McEnroe certainly is fickle and I can't see at all where he is coming from.  Not even counting the 17 to 12 total grand slams, Federer is so far ahead in so many areas.  What about his 23 consecutive grand slam semis, his still unbroken 36 straight quarterfinals, 302 weeks at #1 (237 of those consecutive), 18 of 19 major finals, winning 6 World Tour Finals (which Nadal has yet to win any).  No, he doesn't have a Davis Cup win but that certainly isn't all on him by any means.  Really the only thing Nadal has going for him is his record against the top guys, many of those wins, especially against Federer, on clay (on which Nadal is undeniably the GOAT).  No one is going to have every record or be best at everything.  However, in so many different areas Roger Federer has been the best in history.  We will see how things end up when each of them have hung up their racquet, but for now, for me, there just is no room for any other view between these two great players.

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